Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Giants spring training Day 1: Cueto's arrival delayed, Bumgarner's contract

Giants spring training Day 1: Cueto's arrival delayed, Bumgarner's contract

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Johnny Cueto eased his way into big league camp last spring as he tried to recover from a long 2015 postseason with the Kansas City Royals. In Year 2 with the Giants, Cueto will again be delayed in letting loose on the mound. 

Cueto won't report until later in the week, the Giants said, as he stayed back in the Dominican Republic to tend to his ailing father. The Giants expect Cueto to miss the first two or three days of workouts. 

The rest of what should be a very strong rotation arrived in the clubhouse Monday, the day pitchers and catchers reported. Matt Cain and Jeff Samardzija live in the area and Matt Moore had a short trip after his first FanFest. But Madison Bumgarner was seen for the first time since Game 4 of the NLDS, and he made his rounds, offering bear hugs to longtime teammates. Bumgarner, who is back to the huge-beard look, said he had a "quiet offseason." 

He watched most of the postseason on TV, noting with a smile that, "I sure would have liked to have been there." He liked what he saw in December, when the Giants signed Mark Melancon. "He's the complete package when it comes to a closer," Bumgarner said. There was a rumor that Bumgarner would participate in the World Baseball Classic, but Bumgarner said the timing wasn't right. It is something he would like to do, however. 

As for the big Bumgarner story, he said there have been no recent contract discussions. The Giants have Bumgarner under team control through 2019, and while both sides would like to hammer out a big extension at some point, it's unlikely it happens this spring. 

STOCK RISING: Today is like the first day of school, as players, team employees and beat writers do a whole lot of hand-shaking and ask over and over again, "How was the offseason?" One thing that did stand out in my informal discussions with guys was how many mentioned how much they like Nick Hundley, the new backup catcher. He apparently made quite the impression on teammates and team employees at FanFest.

STOCK FALLING: The idea to expand the footprint of Scottsdale Stadium. The Giants had briefly considered purchasing an open lot behind the bullpens and building some sort of addition to the facility, but it ultimately didn't make sense. The lot is now being turned into condos. 

ICYMI: The main story on Day 1: Cain is ready to fight for his rotation spot.

FAMILIAR FACE: The Giants will see plenty of Gregor Blanco this season, starting in the spring. The Diamondbacks work out about 10 minutes away in North Scottsdale. Cain said it'll be weird facing the guy who saved his perfect game. 

"I might have to hit him a few times," he cracked. "He was fun to have around. He was such a bridge from the American guys to the Latin guys."

It'll be interesting to see who takes that role. Blanco was fluent in English and made himself a big part of things like the clubhouse's fantasy football league, but he also was a mentor for the younger players who were still learning the language. Santiago Casilla was, too. 

QUOTABLE: "Which way is the field?" -- One of the many veterans in Giants camp for the first time. Melancon and Hundley were the only free agent additions to the 40-man roster, but there are still a ton of new faces around when you add up the veteran non-roster invitees, prospects, and players who were acquired in the middle of last season. 

Report: Team USA has spoken to Bumgarner's reps about pitching in WBC

Report: Team USA has spoken to Bumgarner's reps about pitching in WBC

The fourth World Baseball Classic is set to begin in early March and Team USA would like to add one of the best pitchers in baseball to its roster.

Team USA has reportedly reached out to the representatives of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner about joining the team after the first round, according to Fox Sports.

Bumgarner has not appeared in any of the previous three World Baseball Classics.

Team USA's first-round pool play is set to take place from March 9 to March 13. A potential second-round for Team USA would be scheduled from March 14 to March 19 in San Diego.

Bumgarner is coming off a season in which he pitched a career-high 226.2 innings, and has exceeded 200 innings in each of the last six seasons.